Palantir Stock: The Microsoft Of Artificial Intelligence (NYSE:PLTR)

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Trying to define what uber-mysterious Palantir (PLTR) does is akin to Churchill’s famous quote regarding Russia “It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. “

How can a company that’s been in existence almost 20 years still be such a mystery to so many? My answer is: it’s part of the plan.

I have written about Palantir before in this article “Palantir Is About Data And Data Is The Future “. In that article, I argued that the huge amount of data both existing and massively accumulating, is to artificial intelligence like raw meat is to a lion. If AI is indeed about data then something has to feed it, just like the lion. That something is Palantir.

In this article, I will attempt to define PLTR as an operating system sitting on top of a user’s various and sundry systems in order to easily access and order myriad data sources quickly and legibly.

Here are four ways PLTR resembles Microsoft (MSFT) the most famous and successful operating system developer in history.

1. Palantir sits on top of other systems just like Windows does.

What do operating systems do? They sit on top of everything else including data, software, operations, etc. They manage everything underneath them so nothing gets out of control. In my estimation, the best, most descriptive name for an operating system is one I worked on decades ago: Master Control Program {MCP} from Unisys (see here). In fact, the name is so good it has been borrowed by the hugely successful Tron game (see here).

That’s what Gotham and Foundry do: they control what’s beneath them, mainly huge amounts of uncorrelated data from various and sundry sources. They then use those results to feed the huge, voracious maw of AI.

Think about Windows for example.

Under Windows, you could convert a PDF file to a Word document, the Word document to text, the text file to Excel, and the Excel file into PowerPoint or SQL Server.

Multiply the complexity of the data sources and endpoints by about 1,000 times and you have what Palantir does. But still, it is about mastering control and that’s what operating systems do.

2. Gotham and Foundry are not the end but only the beginning.

Many years ago I bought an IBM PC with a 5MB (yep, MB not GB or TB) hard drive for a client to run his payroll on. It was running MS-DOS and Microsoft basic.

Fast forward 30 some years later and we now have Microsoft Azure running every imaginable application for every imaginable customer on the cloud. And little old MS-DOS is now Office 365 many times connected to Windows Server.

The point here is there is much more to come from PLTR in future years other than Gotham and Foundry. I am certain those new applications are in process as we speak.

Where exactly will PLTR’s systems be in 5, 10, or 20 years? I certainly don’t know but I am willing to bet (by owning the stock) it will more than likely resemble Microsoft’s historic path than say Oracle’s.

Per Palantir’s COO Shyam Sankar:

Of course, trillion dollar is well short of our ambition over the next 10 years. We always have and will always continue to focus on building cutting-edge product that the world needs anticipating the future, operating with precision, building before the need is obvious,

Source: Seeking Alpha

So “building before the need is obvious” means there is much more coming from Palantir and, in fact, some of it is already on the way. Just like Microsoft, PLTR is building for a future that is unknown on the one hand but certain in others – there will be massively more data to be analyzed and whoever does it best will be the next Microsoft.

3. Palantir’s next 10 years could be like Microsoft’s early years.

Since Palantir was in business for 17 years before it went public I am going to compare PLTR to MSFT beginning in 1992 about 17 years after it was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen. MSFT’s revenue in 1992 was about $1.5 billion close to Palantir’s revenue of $1.1 billion in 2020.

Microsoft

Microsoft

Just as a curiosity, let’s look at MSFT’s 3, 5, and 10-year future returns based upon the billion-plus revenue of 1992.

MSFT stock first 10 years up 1000%

NASDAQ and Author

Note Palantir was also founded by two well-known tech investors Peter Thiel and Alex Karp. A little older than Microsoft’s founders and perhaps a little wiser too.

The hair is a little different but notice each picture has one guy in a sweater and one guy in a suit. That may or may not represent a strong investment correlation.

Peter Thiel and Alex Karp

Bloomberg

The equivalent stock performance for PLTR from the initial listing date to now would be as shown below.

Some analysts say PLTR is vastly overvalued and looking at the chart below you can see the logic of that argument. Both software companies were up 400%, but one in four months and one in five years.

PLTR up 400% in 4 months vs MSFT up 400% in 5 years

NASDAQ and author

4. SBC (Stock Based Compensation) doesn’t seem to have hurt Microsoft.

One of the arguments Palantir critics often mention is an over-reliance on SBC driving up the PLTR share count from about 900 million in the 3rd quarter of 2020 to about two billion in the 3rd quarter of 2021.

PLTR shares outstanding

Seeking Alpha

Of course, those numbers do not include options provided to employees that have not been cashed in yet.

But if you look at MSFT, they have generated four billionaires and at least 12,000 millionaires.

The company’s 1986 initial public offering (IPO), and subsequent rise in its share price, created three billionaires and an estimated 12,000 millionaires among Microsoft employees.

Source: Wikipedia

Add Steve Ballmer’s $120 billion to the billionaire’s list (see here) although he came to the party later. I am sure Steve had a ton of SBC.

As a comparison to MSFT’s 12,000 millionaires, PLTR only has about 3,000 employees.

Since MSFT currently has a market value of $2.5 trillion versus PLTR $40 billion, it would be hard to argue that SBC will hold PLTR back long-term.

Conclusion:

Artificial Intelligence without data (lots of data) is like Artificial Flowers – pretty, but borderline useless.

That’s why PLTR’s current data acquisition/manipulation operating systems, Foundry and Gotham, are so important to their AI efforts. Those who have the best quality data will have the best AI.

There can be little doubt that data and its related AI will be everywhere soon, from your phone to your TV to your garage door opener.

And we are not talking about just digital data either. There will be data acquisition of voice, terrain, faxes, encrypted messages, texts, photographs, physical movements, people, and things.

How about the distance, speed, and spin of every golf stroke on the PGA Tour?

And Steph Curry’s individual finger grip pressure, ball rotation, and tightness of his shoestrings on every 30-foot 3-pointer he makes?

While the current estimates for the amount of data available and captured over the next 5, 10, or 20 years are high and growing, I think it is still vastly underestimated.

That’s what Palantir knows and why it is an excellent long-term investment.

Buy PLTR if you have a long-term investment plan. It will prosper in any economic environment.

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4482952-palantir-stock-resembles-microsoft

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